T-Mobile calls itself the “Uncarrier,” and the company has found tremendous success with this new campaign. The wireless carrier has positioned itself as a scrappy underdog out to right all the wrongs Verizon and AT&T subscribers have endured for years. The impressive part is that T-Mobile has actually managed to instigate broad changes across the industry that do indeed benefit consumers, and cellular carriers are far more transparent as a result. But amid all of the dust T-Mobile CEO John Legere kicks up each time the carrier makes any announcements, people often forget that T-Mobile is a business first and foremost.
As a public company, T-Mobile has a duty to its shareholders. And while the carrier’s new free Netflix offer is positioned as a great deal for customers, it’s really not a good deal at all.
T-Mobile on Wednesday announced its latest endeavor to keep customers flowing in from its rival carriers. The offer seems simple enough — if you’re a T-Mobile subscriber with a T-Mobile ONE unlimited plan, you now get a free $9.99 Netflix subscription along with your cellular service. Sweet!
The carrier posted a lengthy press release alongside its announcement, and the verbiage and messaging are in line with other announcements T-Mobile has made in the past. In other words, it’s a lot to take in. Tossed in near the end, however, is one paragraph in particular that everyone seems to have missed:
To qualify, all you need are two or more paid voice lines on T-Mobile ONE with taxes and fees included. Even customers with free lines from the Un-carrier’s wildly popular recent “line-on-us” deals qualify. Customers on Unlimited 55+ or 2 lines for $100 can get Netflix On Us simply by switching to the latest T-Mobile ONE plan.
Specifically, the sentence that stings is this one: “Customers on Unlimited 55+ or 2 lines for $100 can get Netflix On Us simply by switching to the latest T-Mobile ONE plan.”
T-Mobile’s 2 lines for $100 promotion is by far the carrier’s best deal. As the name suggests, those who take advantage of the offer get two T-Mobile ONE lines, including all the unlimited goodies the carrier touts, for just $100. But here’s the thing: customers who took advantage of that awesome promo will need to change to “the latest T-Mobile ONE plan” in order to get free Netflix. Oh, and guess what… it looks like the 2 lines for $100 promo ends on the very same day the free Netflix offer goes live, so it’s no longer “the latest T-Mobile ONE plan.” Oops.
With that in mind, let’s look at the math. You can either keep paying $100 per month and get a $9.99 Netflix subscription for yourself, or you can switch to “the latest T-Mobile ONE plan” and pay $120 for two lines and a $9.99 Netflix subscription. So that’s $109.99 per month without the new Netflix promo, or $120 per month with it. The only way you save any money is if you have three or four lines on your account and you use autopay.
On its own, a $60-per-month plan that includes free Netflix is a very good value. The problem is T-Mobile’s misleading messaging. Like all of its other Uncarrier promotions, the company positioned this deal as a fantastic offer that will save subscribers even more money — and for some customers, that’s indeed the case. But for people who already took advantage of the best promo on the table right now at T-Mobile, getting in on the new Netflix offer would end up costing them more.
Last updated at 2:33 PM ET to clarify that the new promotion does offer savings for subscribers not on T-Mobile’s 2 lines for $100 deal.